“Lord, I can’t do this on my own.” That was the beginning of Major Janice Love’s desperate prayer several months after being appointed to a community that wasn’t embracing the corps. For the first time in many years she felt out of her comfort zone. Overwhelmed, she needed local leaders who could walk with her. She asked God to give her a vision for the community and corps, then added, “Lord, give me a godly man. No, make that five godly men!”
The major had never led a corps with a daily feeding program. Then, the cook quit. For the next four months, Major Janice cooked for the corps’ Beacon of Hope feeding ministry during the busiest time of the year for a corps officer. But, to her own surprise, she fell in love with the ministry. The 100 or so faces she saw each day became names; the names became stories, and they became family.
“It became one of my priorities to make sure meals were ones I’d eat and the dining room nice enough for the mayor. Most importantly, I wanted to provide an unforgettable atmosphere,” said Major Janice.
Months later, two familiar faces from the feeding program showed up in the corps’ adult Sunday school class. More and more diners began showing up for worship. Excitement grew within the congregation.
Men attending worship services from the Kansas City Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) began inquiring about becoming soldiers—and officers! A recruits’ course was started for the men and four other people from the corps. Major let current soldiers attend the classes to recommit themselves.
“I wanted our people to no longer view the corps as a country club but as their church,” said Major Janice. “I wanted them to see membership as ‘a gift from God…we should treasure with great joy and anticipation,’” she added quoting from I am a Church Member by Thom S. Rainer.
While walking through the chapel making sure everything was ready for the enrollment of 10 new soldiers and the recommitment of several others, Major Janice suddenly remembered her prayer from two years earlier. Tears streamed down her face as she realized God not only had answered her prayer but exceeded it.
Vacant leadership roles at the corps were filled and community outreaches strategically planned, including a festival for the corps’ 75th anniversary, a World Cup soccer match and the “adoption” of older adults in the neighborhood. Several soldiers attended the National Seminar on Evangelism and the 730 Candidates’ Weekend.
This has challenged Major Janice to study God’s Word even more diligently, reappraise her own covenant and continue to lead above reproach. She finds inspiration in Isaiah 43:18-19 (TLB): “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am going to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun!”